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American Self-Portrait IV

Here is the wind as it locks and reloads above
the waves. And there, the clatter of gulls scattershot

across the beach. Notice the couple caught in midlaugh
as the little dog of time tags along behind them, its leash

a tink tink tink in the distance. What is life but dark
waters washing us up? Tide in and tide out. The sky

white as an angel's robe, the angel's robe strung up
somewhere between what we want and what blinds.

What are the chances I'll recall any of this
next week? How likely is it that the hour I

have my hook dug into will tear its tine from
your skin? Let's tell the carpenter to put down

his hammer. What do we care if the bell goes on
with its silent journey through hours? We can

build our own fire, string our own line. Maybe the sea
will peel back its waves, maybe the blackened boat

of the body will reel in the last rope from the pier,
maybe the fish, maybe the lone gull, maybe the moon

aswim in its minnow-bucket . . . even if the stars
take it all back, even if the drummer drops his sticks

and walks into the ocean, even if the trees tie on
their bad blindfolds, we'll be okay. We don't need

anything except what we will remember, and even that
will change, like a cloud whose rain is about to fall.

Just wait. Someone is going to warn that boy against
building sandcastles so close to the water. It won't be me.

Dean Rader

Self-Portrait As Wikipedia Entry
Copper Canyon Press

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